“Teaching is like an orchestra. There are many different instruments, and to reach everyone you need to put a symphony of different kinds of pedagogy together. Learning technologies provide a set of instruments teachers can use to achieve that range of instructional strategies.”
– Dr. Chris Dede, Harvard Graduate School of Education
One set of instruments that is being researched for its potential in the learning domain is “Augmented Reality (AR)”. AR is a technique where virtual elements are superimposed in real-life context. AR is being extensively used in domains such as entertainment, gaming and advertising. This same technique can also be applied for the purpose of education – eLearning and mLearning to be more precise. The outcome is being termed as Augmented learning (Wang, 2012).
Researches in the Field of Augmented Learning
Currently, researches are being done in the area of Augmented learning at various universities. At Harvard, under the leadership of Dr. Dede, there are several projects being undertaken. A lot of them are focused on AR for K-12 education. But there are other researches being undertaken to focus on how AR can be effective in corporate situation (HARP, 2013).
Special Collections Using Augmented Reality to Enhance Learning and Teaching (SCARLET) is another project with the objective of using AR to enable students to get a first-hand experience of studying medieval manuscripts and other literary archives (Jisc, 2011).
Another paper describes an early work exploring the options of developing authoring tools for AR particularly in the mobile technologies. Authoring tools for programmers is different from those used by non-programmers. While the former requires programming knowledge, the latter would have a drag-and-drop type of interface for building learning content. The paper talks about developing a high level AR application for mobile environment, which makes quick prototyping of the GUI and related components possible (Wang, Langlotz, Billinghurst, & Bell, 2009).
Need to focus on instructional strategy while treading through various technological options
Given the rate at which technologies are changing and the numerous researches being done in the area, Augmented Learning is quite likely to the norm in the near future in many areas of our lives including learning. However, in the razzmatazz of technological fanfare, there is likelihood of losing focus on the learning objectives in the learning/training programs.
Therefore, there is a need for a collaborative effort between instructional designers, learning professionals and technology experts to work to ensure that the Augmented Learning Environment positively supports learning. Borrowing Dr. Chris Dede’s analogy, if you want to create a learning symphony, you can use different technological instruments PROVIDED they are in sync with the instructional strategies that help in meeting the learning objectives.
How do you perceive the role of Augmented Reality in the domain of learning? Do share your thoughts.